Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Error Message

I was busy browsing through an orkut community forum when something went wrong with the orkut server and it couldn't deliver the pages to me. Instead of a boring, dull error message page, I was delighted to see the following:

"Bad, bad server. No donut for you.
Unfortunately, the orkut.com server has acted out in an unexpected way. Hopefully, it will return to its helpful self if you try again in a few minutes.
It's likely that the server will behave this way on occasion during the coming months. We apologize for the inconvenience and for our server's lack of consideration for others. "


I don't remember the last time an error message made me smile :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Making money from your blog, the Seth Godin way

Ok. Heres the deal. You convince people to pay me $1000 to read my blog, and I will pay you $100 per person. What? Bad idea? Ok. Change of plan. Send them to Hyderabad, India (there's a small town by that name in Pakistan too), where I will talk about...er...well...does it matter?...let me think...Effective Business Systems (ah! that sounds good) for $1000 and I will pay you $100 per head. I will talk for two days. Now, does that sound reasonable? No?

Well, Seth Godin thinks otherwise. He will pay you $100 if a person joins his seminar after reading it from your blog. But ofcourse, that person will need to shell out $1,650 first for a one day seminar. Yeah, for a one day seminar in New York. And he writes "It’s in mid Manhattan, in the fanciest neighborhood in North America, so hotels and cabs and airlines should be easy to identify and book. You’re on your own." (my highlights)

I know. I am no Seth Godin, but I have a two day seminar, guys, and it is $650 cheaper. And I'll throw in lunch, with two coffee breaks during the day. I'll also give a free notebook and a freshly sharpened pencil. Anyone? Guys? Hello???

4 Rules for the Practical Entrepreneur

Gosh...did I really NOT blog for so long?
Anyway, here is something I found very very interesting to read. It has everything I like about non-textbook style, street-smart exec style writing. In short, Ian Landsman opines that there are four rules that practical entrepreneuers should know and obey. His headings for them are:
1. Fragmented Market
2. Business Before Consumer
3. Clear and Simple Revenue Model
4. Dog Food
Go and read it all at:
http://www.userscape.com/blog/2005/12/20/4-rules-for-the-practical-entrepreneur/

Being an entrepreneur myself (not the software kind, though- not yet at least), and a decently successful one at that, I can assure you that Ian is spot on. I agree that he could have added a few more rules, some more important than the other, the crux of his discussion is that these four rules are the most neglected ones and that they hold good for the 'practical' entrepreneur rather than their 'visionary' counterparts.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security

Here is an excellently written article on computer security. It is educating and amusing enough to keep your attention for its entire span. Best of all- we all can relate to and identify all the six dumb ideas:
1. Default Permit
2. Enumerating Badness
3. Penetrate and Patch (knock...knock...is Microsoft listening?)
4. Hacking is Cool
5. Education Users (yes, it is a dumb idea according to the author...read about it)
6. Action is better than Inaction

And there are some minor dumbs that you shouldn't miss also.

Read it all at:
http://www.ranum.com/security/computer_security/editorials/dumb/

Monday, November 07, 2005

Open source turns money-spinner

David Reid, a BBC Correspondent, wrote the following article on BBC Click-online, about Open source software and the international get together of open source movement at Amsterdam. He begins the article with an amusing observation:
"The Dutch are pretty open about the sort of stuff that many of us prefer to keep to ourselves - what goes on beneath the sheets, for example. "

Read it all, titled "Open source turns money-spinner".

Monday, October 24, 2005

Time to switch off the old light 'bulb'?

In the not so distant future, you may well switch off your light bulb and still not be in dark. Quite literally so. A new technology, stemming from an accidental discovery, could mean that your room will be lit from table tops, walls and just about any surface you deem suitable. Enter the era of LED light fixtures. Read more about this at http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9777070/.

Friday, October 14, 2005

IIPM threatens to sue a blogger

Gaurav Sabnis, an IBM (now Lenovo) employee and a popular Indian blogger, linked to an article in a local magazine that IIPM didn't quite like. IIPM threatened to sue Gaurav and also called up a senior IBM executive and threatened to burn IBM laptops. To save his freedom of speech, and for IBM's well-being, Gaurav voluntarily resigned from IBM. Kiruba made this t-shirt in response:

Check out Gaurav's post and the article in the local magazine that Gaurav linked to.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Evolving Internet and changing rules

I came across the following article titled "How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Relinquish Control" by Peter Merholz. It talks about how the new mantra of Internet business seems to be to give away lot of control to the users, a-la google and flickr. There are pretty interesting points to note in the article:
http://www.adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/archives/000501.php

While on the subject of changing business rules and evolving Internet, take a look at an interesting post here:
http://www.kottke.org/05/08/googleos-webos

It talks about emerging Internet applications and their contribution to a true webOS.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A new addition to our family

On the 28th of September, 2005, at 20:10 India time, God gifted us a 3.1 kg bundle of joy. Here are a couple of pics I took of our beautiful son:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cooing at new-born babies banned

This happens only in England: A West Yorkshire hospital has banned visitors from cooing at new-born babies over fears their human rights are being breached and to reduce infection.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/4284522.stm

What next? Disinfected 'burkhas' (veils) for babies?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blogs are being beamed into space...koi mil gaya?

While casually browsing, I stumbled upon this. MindComet, a relationship management company based in Florida, is beaming blogs into space. The idea is that aliens can get to know humans better by reading ramblings of ordinary homo-sapiens. Check it all out at the following links:
http://www.bloginspace.com
http://www.bloginspace.com/blogsbeingtransmitted.php

Here are some possible reactions from the head of planet Zorg after reading some blogs I know:
Sid: "Wow. These guys have programming in their blood. Can make good slaves to write our programs"
GeekHead: "This species must have been extinct by now. How can they all be so fond of smoking and yet survive? Hmm...I guess we should get this specimen called SmokingJoe for analysis."
Sajid: "Wow...these guys are good fun. If we can enslave them on Zorg, we will have good entertainment. Get the ships ready, Major Maksanador. Lets import some fun"
Tanveer: "We must attack Earth and get them all here, but leave this guy alone. Sounds pretty useless to me"

Monday, September 19, 2005

Free online books for all

I found the following link with a list of free books online. It is a very impressive collection of very useful books. Go and check it out...they may have a book or two to hook you up for a very long time:
http://www.infosyssec.com/infosyssec/onlinebooks1.htm

Friday, September 16, 2005

Would you like MSNAOL?

Hmmm...Microsoft and Time Warner are talking. The subject is AOL. And Microsoft wants to take it under its umbrella as part of MSN.
Read the news at:
http://www.nypost.com/business/28069.htm

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Microsoft tries to hire Eric Raymond

"On the day *I* go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will beheard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue butdevelop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstonewill go superconductive.
But I must thank you for dropping a good joke on my afternoon. Onthat hopefully not too far distant day that I piss on Microsoft’sgrave, I sincerely hope none of it will splash on you.
"
Read more here: http://esr.ibiblio.org/index.php?p=208

"Funny" would be an understatement.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A prominent Lazard banker's farewell message

I have seen many resignation letters and mails saying 'goodbye' to loving colleagues. But, I love this one most. Bernard Sainte-Marie, a former banker at Lazard, lashed out at Bruce Wasserstein in an email message to his colleagues as he left the firm last week. His mail is an interesting mix of heart-felt messages and funny comments such as "I will be pursuing my career in the general unemployment line, as I am neither old enough nor wealthy enough to retire. I wish myself every good fortune in the future."
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/09/business/09lazard_email.html?dlbk

Thursday, September 08, 2005

TreePad: A nice tool

http://www.treepad.com/
I like this tool. It lets you write and store information in a neat tree-like structure. The website calls it an Organizer, PIM / Database, Personal Information Manager and Word Processor.
You may say that any XML editor would let you write stuff in a tree format but this is a full featured word processor. Check it out at http://www.treepad.com/. There is a free TreePad Lite! available.

The 3 Essential Rules that Guarantee a Successful Business

Hmmm...everybody has a magic number to success. The '7' habits of highly effective people. The '22' immutable laws of marketing. The '4' P's of marketing (they have now incremented it to 5). The list is countless. I guess it all started in the pre-biblical era with all those '10' commandments and the '7' sins.
However, a few of them have good advice that is worth assimilating. FollowSteph's article on the 3 essential rules borders on truism and good wisdom. However, her three rules are worthy to be printed in large print and posted in the sad cubicle of every product designer and every business developer:
1. Solve a problem
2. Make it easy
3. Make it work 100%

I won't go into the details of how we often don't solve a real problem, or make the solution pathetically convoluted (for the users...it always is easy for us) or leave a half-cooked broth and still expect a sale. Read it here.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Entrepreneurs should make mistakes

Eric does a wonderful job explaining the kind of issues an entrepreneur faces and the kind of mistakes they end up doing. As a case in point, he lists and discusses the mistakes he made and the lessons he learnt while building SourceGear. Very interesting to read and useful to digest.
http://software.ericsink.com/bos/Make_More_Mistakes.html

One loud and clear message is that businessmen should make mistakes (the non-fatal ones, actually). This is not to say 'go out and seek the latest mistake' or write a list of mistakes you want to do today. Heck no. It means that entrepreneurs should not be afraid of making mistakes, neither should they be ashamed of them. Instead, learn lessons and move on. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn and the more you grow. But, those mistakes arise from fearless efforts and bold attempts. So,

Fearlessness in strategy and operation-->Mistakes-->Lessons-->Success

where the arrows (-->) are to be interpreted as 'contributes to'.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A VC Wishlist

Business2 magazine got hold of a few VCs and asked them what projects they would like to fund in the near future. Here is a list. Hmm...anyone?
http://www.business2.com/b2/web/articles/0,17863,1096807-1,00.html

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blogging from MS Word

How much easier can Blogging get? Now, even you boss will think you are writing a report when you are actually blogging. Blogger.com has come up with a Microsoft Word Add-In that lets you add as well as edit your posts from MS Word. Cool, eh? This post comes to you directly from MS Word.
I hope I remember to test it out with Openoffice.org that I use at home.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why Software Will Never Stop Sucking

Jeremy Bowers offers some compelling reasons for why software will, essentially, never stop sucking. He takes on Doc Searl's statement "'It's easy to operate a car or a house without being a mechanic or a carpenter, even though it helps to have those skills. Can't the same be true for PCs? Will it be? How?" to argue that this comparison between cars and computers is wrong and computer software is different. Read it all at http://www.jerf.org/writings/wswnss.html

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Amway, Quixtar, Britt Worldwide: An MSNBC Story

Quite literally, tens of Amway/Quixtar/BrittWorldwide IBOs have approached me in the last few years making wild claims of fortune and 'independence'. Whenever I tried to work out the scheme on paper, in black and white, it didn't make sense. While I don't necessary rebuke the power of multi-level marketing, the way of Amway may not be the right way after all. In May last year, MSNBC conducted a 'secret camera' sting operation and came out with the following story. Go on and read it at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4375477/
Not to be left shivering in the Dateline storm, Quixtar came up with a response on this site.
You may also want to check out http://amquix.info/amway.html for a detailed analysis of how Amway's version of multi-level marketing may not work, after all.
Another interesting reading comes from an ex-distributor who wrote a book in the eighties and which is now available online: "Fake it Till You Make It".

Bottomline: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Monday, August 08, 2005

GOffice: The online office suit

GOfiice is an online office suite. You can think of it as a software application you use to accomplish work, like writing letters and creating greeting cards and business cards. You probably already use Microsoft Office to do such work. This site is like an online version of a conventional office suite.This site creates Adobe PDF format document files, so you can print them with outstanding quality, and send them to anyone.
Check it out. It is free for personal use.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What Business Can Learn from Open Source

"Ironically, though open source and blogs are done for free, those worlds resemble market economies, while most companies, for all their talk about the value of free markets, are run internally like commmunist states", says Paul Graham. He makes many other interesting observations and comments (some of which you may or may not subscribe to).
Click here for his article.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Synergy: share keyboard and mouse across computers

Synergy (opensource, with GPL licence) lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).
Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all.

Check it out at its sourceforge page:
http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/index.html

When a valid SQL is an error


A colleague of mine got an error message in Microsoft SQL Server saying that the SQL statement was valid. Click on the image to check it out for yourself.

Monday, August 01, 2005

What to do with my motherboard?

I happen to have a spare motherboard- an AMD Athlon 2400. And I don't want to sell it on e-bay. I want to do something creative and useful with it and would like YOU to give me some suggestions. So far, my friends have thrown these ideas at me:

1. Home automation system
2. Home security system
3. A robot to help me with household stuff (like cleaning floors, vaccuming etc.)
4. Use it as a paper weight or a 'geeky' wall hanger

You need to remember that I am no PhD holding scientist here. I am a software engineer by profession, a poet by passion and a mad-man by reputation. So, what do you suggest?

Ontology is Overrated- Clay Shirky's talk

Clay Shirky writes about how categorization, as applied to the e-world, is more of a mis-fit than a helpful tool. He discusses Ontology in general and goes on to discuss it as applied to the modern electronic world. Read his very interesting piece at:
http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html

Friday, July 29, 2005

Why smart people have bad ideas



Another Paul Graham classic. He makes some very interesting points like "Work people like doesn't pay well, for reasons of supply and demand. The most extreme case is developing programming languages, which doesn't pay at all, because people like it so much they do it for free."
Go read it on his website
http://www.paulgraham.com/bronze.html

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code

For details, go to this link:
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html

The Joel Test
1. Do you use source control?
2. Can you make a build in one step?
3. Do you make daily builds?
4. Do you have a bug database?
5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
7. Do you have a spec?
8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
10. Do you have testers?
11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

I think this is a good checklist for any Project Manager.

Mumbai under water


Mumbai was flooded heavily in the last three days of incessant rains. Here are some pics that show how bad the situation has been. I know people who spent the night at office and went without food for more than 12 hours. A lucky few had chocolates and other snacks at the office vending machine or canteen. So far, over 50 dead and many many more missing. Another dimension to this is that many ATM machines and bank counters at other places, including Hyderabad, have either stopped working or are behaving erratically. Why? Well, their data centers are in Mumbai, their systems and communication links are down and the geeks who look after these systems are busy figuring out how to get home. I needed to make an online payment but couldn't do so because of such system troubles; which makes me sing: "Rain rain go away, Come again another day, Big Tanveer wants to 'pay' ( online ), Rain rain go away"


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What every "would-be startup millionaire" should read

Joel Spolsky, of Joel on software fame, says "The common belief is that when you're building a software company, the goal is to find a neat idea that solves some problem which hasn't been solved before, implement it, and make a fortune. We'll call this the build-a-better-mousetrap belief. But the real goal for software companies should be converting capital into software that works."
This isn't your regular run-off-the-mill management speak. It is a thoroughly readable and useful article. Go ahead and read it at http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/HighNotes.html

Strong Typing vs. Strong Testing

I found the following article by Bruce Eckel pretty interesting. It is part of his "Thinking About Computers" and is titled "Strong Typing vs. Strong Testing". Check it out.
http://www.mindview.net/WebLog/log-0025

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hello World

Blogging blogsters are posting posts
From moaning monsters to ghouling ghosts;
Then why O why should I lie in wait
So I thought "lets get our action straight".

To prove that I am not yet dead cold,
Here I come, O blogging world.
Here I come, my blogging world.

Hello World

Taking a cue from my good friend and colleague, Upster, I will try to post some interesting things here. Lets see if I can manage to keep this alive long enough.
For more info on me, please pay a visit to my website.